Q & A

How did you end up being a writer?

Several years ago I went looking for a children’s book that would help my nephew, who has a brother with special needs. When I couldn’t find one that spoke to his situation and being the problem solver that I naturally am, I decided to write one myself. It was my first attempt at writing and I called it, “The boy who smiled.” I never looked back.

What was the smartest thing you’ve done as a writer?

Once I realized I had the writing bug I joined the Writer’s Federation of Nova Scotia and enrolled in back to back writing classes with the much loved Norene Smiley. It was there, that I realized I had a lot to learn about the craft of writing. It was through these courses that I also met and formed a wonderful writing group, ‘The Thursday Scribblers.’ We meet each Thursday and read our writing, give each other feedback and laugh our guts out. I am so grateful for them. Our common goal to be successful, happy writers has kept us meeting regularly.

What qualifies you write Maxed Out?

For many years I worked with individuals with special needs. I also volunteered on the Adult Help Phone. Both of these experiences helped me with this story.

Who (or what) inspires you as a writer?

Problems inspire me. I hear something or see something and think I’d like to solve that – or what would happen if…

What kind of research do you do before you write (illustrate) a book?

If there is something I need to check out I do, but usually I write the story first and then get facts if need be.

Do you put your family and friends in your books?

A few personality quirks have appeared here and there. Not on purpose – it just happens.

What is the best (or hardest) thing about writing books for young readers?

The hardest is making it believable and meaningful for them. The best is when that happens.

Do you have any funny (or strange) writing habits?

Ideas will come to me in the strangest places, like driving in the car late at night. I’ve been known to scribble down something in the dark. The fun part is trying to figure out what I’ve written when it’s day light. I basically write whenever I have spare moment. Many chapters were written while I watched my children at sport practices. I’m the mom you see in the stands or local school cafeteria typing away.

How do you come up with names for your characters?

They just magically appear in my mind. In the end, they may change as the story evolves to better suit the character.

Describe the main character in Maxed Out in five words.

Caring, sensitive, funny, determined, helpful.

What is your favorite children’s book?

I loved A Little Princess when I was little. I felt so badly for the little girl.

What is your favourite (or funniest) childhood/teenage memory?

Going mud sliding on the banks of the Avon River at low tide, and spending time with my cousins at Stony Lake.

What character traits do you share with your main character?

All of them.

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